An agent-based conception of models and scientific representation
I argue for an intentional conception of representation in science that requires bringing scientific agents and their intentions into the picture. So the formula is: Agents (1) intend; (2) to use model, M; (3) to represent a part of the world, W; (4) for some purpose, P. This conception legitimates using similarity as the basic relationship between models and the world. Moreover, since just about anything can be used to represent anything else, there can be no unified ontology of models. This whole approach is further supported by a brief exposition of some recent work in cognitive, or usage-based, linguistics. Finally, with all the above as background, I criticize the recently much discussed idea that claims involving scientific models are really fictions.
KeywordsAgents Cognitive linguistics Fictions Intentions Models Scientific representation
- Cartwright N.D. (1999) The dappled world: A study of the boundaries of science. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Chakravartty, A. (2009). Informational versus functional theories of scientific representation. Synthese. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9502-3.
- Contessa, G. (2009). Scientific models as fictional objects. Synthese. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9503-2.
- Dennett D.C. (1995) Darwin’s dangerous idea: Evolution and the meanings of life. Simon & Schuster, Inc, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Giere R.N. (1988) Explaining science: A cognitive approach. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Giere, R. N. (1999). Science without laws. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Giere R.N. (2006) Scientific perspectivism. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Lakoff G. (1987) Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Morgan M.S., Morrison M. (eds) (1999) Models as mediators: Perspectives on natural and social science. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Scheffler I. (1963) The anatomy of inquiry: Philosophical studies in the theory of science. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Smith E.E., Medin D.L. (1981) Categories and concepts. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Suárez M. (2004) An inferential conception of scientific representation, Philosophy of Science 71: 767–779Google Scholar
- Suárez M. (Eds.) (2009) Fictions in science: Philosophical essays on modeling and idealization. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Suppes P. (1969) Studies in the methodology and foundations of science: Selected papers from 1951 to 1969. Reidel, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
- Teller, P. (2008a). Of course idealizations are incommensurable! In L. Soler, H. Sankey, & P. Hoyningen-Huene (Eds.), Rethinking scientific change and theory comparison: Stabilities, ruptures, incommensurabilities? Kluwer.Google Scholar
- Teller, P. (2008b). Representation in science. In S. Psillos & M. Curd (Eds.), The Routledge companion to the philosophy of science. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Thomson-Jones, M. (2009). Missing systems and the face value practice. Synthese. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9507-y.
- Tomasello M. (2003) Constructing a language: A usage-based theory of language acquisition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MAGoogle Scholar
- Vaihinger, H. (1935). The philosophy of ‘As If’: A system of the theoretical, practical and religious fictions of mankind (C. K. Ogden, Trans.). New York: Barnes & Noble.Google Scholar
- van Frassen, B. C. (2000). The theory of tragedy and of science: Does nature have a narrative structure. In Sfendoni-Mendou (eds), Aristotle and contemporary science (Vol. 1). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
- Walton K.L. (1990) Mimesis as make-believe: On the foundations of the representational arts. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar